Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

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Elheru Aran
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Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-02-24 04:02pm

Greetings all.

So we recently got Prime, and after I found Cowboy Bebop, I found... Andromeda. And nu-BSG too, I can finally catch up after I left off around season 2! Now if only they had Stargate and B5, my life would be complete... Anyway.

I originally started watching Andromeda sometime in the mid-2000s, so probably around third or fourth season. Not the best time to start watching it, but it was interesting enough. It came on right before Stargate, so it was something to leave the TV on with while preparing supper. At the time I was OK with it, but I didn't care enough to keep up with it very far. The ladies were good looking, the ship was pretty cool, that was about it.

Rediscovering it I decided to give it another go, with the bonus experience of 13ish years of deeper immersion in science fiction and fantasy media.

Thus far I've gotten through the first... four? episodes.

Initial impression: It starts out as pretty much Star Trek lite. Kind of obvious with the Gene Roddenberry name tacked on, though from what I understand that was mostly a publicity thing and because his wife helped produce the show-- the actual extent of his involvement (it being made well after his death, obviously) being mostly a few concepts and the name Dylan Hunt.

Then it turns into Firefly... before Firefly actually came out (Andromeda started in 2000, Firefly came out 2002). Bear with me: Dylan=Mal, but more of a straight-arrow type. Beka: A mix of Mal and Zoe. Harper: Pretty obvious Wash parallel, funny guy with Hawaiian shirts. Trance: Kaylee/River, maniac pixie dream girl who knows things. Tyr: Jayne-- the selfish, self-absorbed thug with a heart of gold. Rev Bem: Book, with the whole atoning-for-a-dark-past thing going on. There's no real similarity to Simon or Inara, other than perhaps Rommie and she only got her android body in the third episode. And Andromeda is obviously no Serenity, but there's always the Eureka Maru...

Another strong similarity could be drawn to Farscape, which actually started a year or so before Andromeda. You have a man out of his context (well, time for Hunt, I was never quite sure if John Crichton went to the future or a parallel universe), a crew of misfits including an action chick, a dangerous alien guy, a weird body-painted woman, a sentient starship... the beige colour scheme is even kinda similar to Moya's bridge.

Maybe it's just an early-00s TV SF thing? Along with the somewhat cheesy costumes (god that chain mail tank-top Tyr wears is so absurd) and the cheap CGI. Actually really pretty cheap CGI. Stargate was coming out about the same time and while the CGI was fairly noticeable there... it wasn't quite nearly as bad. Probably it's more noticeable because Andromeda seems to be a bit more graphics-heavy show? Bem's makeup is pretty decent, though. I actually missed out entirely on Bem previously since I came on well after the actor had left, so it's been interesting watching him.

What makes the show stand out, more than anything, is that it's as much about *ideas* as it is action. Dylan has the whole thing of re-establishing the Commonwealth going on. There are the Nietzescheans standing in their way. Just had that episode with the children cargo-culting in imitation of the High Guard. Sort of like if Picard got thrust into a dystopian future version of Trek, all on his own on the D. It's not just space adventure, people are actually standing up for things they believe in, and having to deal with that. That's a little bit different.

Anyway. My understanding is that the first couple of seasons are the best, and I should basically just stop watching after that point, for there are only a handful of decent episodes, which Thanas helpfully provided in a post a few years ago in a thread discussing this very show.

Thoughts? Discussion? Commentary?
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Re: Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-02-24 05:54pm

That's a bit of an eerie coincidence, as I have started rewatching Andromeda on Prime.

And while I do see your point about the Maru's crew being similar to the Serenity's, they're in vastly different situations.

Everyone on the ship is a bit loyal to Dylan, just because he's that loyal to them. Aside from Tyr, Tyr, as noted in the first episode that focuses on him, keeps all his options open for maximum benefit until he has to make a choice. It's very interesting to see the concept of Nietzsche's Superman in the flesh, with him being a ruthless, cunning, and brilliant renaissance man, and often in a battle of philosophies with Dylan Hunt's Star Trek gospel. Tyr centric episodes are vastly becoming a favorite of mine, as the chess and poker games between him and the rest of the crew/his opponents are always fun to watch.

Rhade, both Dylan's old friend and his descendent are also interesting as Nietzchian points of view, in that they're supportive of the Commonwealth philosophy to different extents, in that the individual is stronger when he has a strong cooperative behind him.

Their entire philosophy explained over a game of Go: https://youtu.be/n8ev9rscDXM

Rev Bem is probably the show's greatest loss, as he was great as Dylan's priest, source of wisdom, a pacifistic approach to counter Tyr's militant solutions, and provided a much needed voice of reason that wasn't Dylan Hunt's.

It's a real shame that Kevin Sorbo threw away a lot of the show's philosophy for episodic adventure.
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Re: Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

Post by Bedlam » 2018-02-24 05:55pm

I'd agree with the first few seasons being quite good but the quality drops off pretty rapidly after then. As far as I understand behind the scene's Kevin Sorbo was given to be creative control of the vehicle he was staring in and basically made Dylan a Mary Sue and reduced most of the rest of the cast to confirming how amazing he was.

I hadn't thought of the character similarities to Firefly (I saw Firefly 3ish years after it first showed and after I had stopped watching Andromeda) but they certainly seem to be there, although I see Firefly as being a bit closer to Beka's crew before they met up with Andromeda.

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Re: Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

Post by Batman » 2018-02-24 09:29pm

Basically, stop watching when Trance loses her tail, and SERIOUSLY stop watching when she stops being purple. The series nosedives from there. At Maximum Transwarp.
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Re: Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

Post by PREDATOR490 » 2018-02-24 11:11pm

Season 1 and 2.5 is where the majority of the good stuff is. Trance going from Purple to Gold, Romi changing her hairstyle and Rev Bem leaving. All the same episode and the exact point everything in this series becomes a sinking ship.

That said, if your really keen then following through to the end of Season 3 is viable but the amount of awful episodes steadily increases and even the good bits are a shadow of what this series started out as.

S4 and S5 are just a complete mess and nothing is redeemable about them. It is rather sad that a series that started with a great amount of potential wasted it so fantastically.

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Re: Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-02-26 04:31pm

So far I'm only up to episode 9 or so.

The Firefly similarity is mostly just what I was thinking during the first couple of episodes. Certainly I don't mean to suggest that Firefly is derivative of Andromeda. Rather they just share some common concepts (like the funny guy in a Hawaiian shirt). And I'm thinking that the late 90s/early 00s had a thing for ensemble dramas (Friends, anybody?). So I guess that explains Andromeda, Farscape and Firefly?

Thinking about it: DS9 ended in 1999. Voyager was on the way out, it ended in 2001. Enterprise started in the fall of 2001. So you have two Trek heavies leaving television around the same time, and Nemesis came out in 2002, which hurt that franchise badly. Enterprise didn't do very well for the first few seasons. So there was a bit of an opening in TV space SF.

Stargate SG-1 came out around the same time too, but it's a different genre-- military/ground-pounder SF. It's not trying to fill the same niche as Trek, or that whole... randomly exploring space with a quirky/misfit crew niche that's still close enough to Trek to try and fill in the space.
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Re: Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

Post by Q99 » 2018-02-26 11:27pm

The golden age of space opera started with TNG, ran through DS9 and Voyager, and yea, these shows were created to take up the torch and expand upon the genre.

Also I would say SG-1 hits it- they had the episodic 'new world each week,' thing that a lot of TNG and Voy had, and later on they add more starships. It's just it's own twist.

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Re: Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-02-27 05:26am

After rewatching The Prince, I think it's one of my favorite episodes. We see Tyr and Dylan playing off each other, the titular prince, and the royal court, all to stabilize a world for their grander plans. It's also interesting to see both Tyr being ready as ever for opportunity, and Dylan being ready for Tyr.

I do wonder if the writers got tired making those quotes each and every week, doing both world building and making it pertain to the episode somehow.
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Re: Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

Post by Q99 » 2018-02-28 10:59pm

A thing that strikes me is... episodic adventurers focusing more on one character is something that doesn't even had to be bad at all, it's quite possible to make that fun even if it's not very deep. Even with the change the quality didn't *have* to drop so much.

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Re: Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

Post by U.P. Cinnabar » 2018-03-01 11:51am

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-02-24 04:02pm
Greetings all.

So we recently got Prime, and after I found Cowboy Bebop, I found... Andromeda. And nu-BSG too, I can finally catch up after I left off around season 2! Now if only they had Stargate and B5, my life would be complete... Anyway.

I originally started watching Andromeda sometime in the mid-2000s, so probably around third or fourth season. Not the best time to start watching it, but it was interesting enough. It came on right before Stargate, so it was something to leave the TV on with while preparing supper. At the time I was OK with it, but I didn't care enough to keep up with it very far. The ladies were good looking, the ship was pretty cool, that was about it.

Rediscovering it I decided to give it another go, with the bonus experience of 13ish years of deeper immersion in science fiction and fantasy media.

Thus far I've gotten through the first... four? episodes.

Initial impression: It starts out as pretty much Star Trek lite. Kind of obvious with the Gene Roddenberry name tacked on, though from what I understand that was mostly a publicity thing and because his wife helped produce the show-- the actual extent of his involvement (it being made well after his death, obviously) being mostly a few concepts and the name Dylan Hunt.

Then it turns into Firefly... before Firefly actually came out (Andromeda started in 2000, Firefly came out 2002). Bear with me: Dylan=Mal, but more of a straight-arrow type. Beka: A mix of Mal and Zoe. Harper: Pretty obvious Wash parallel, funny guy with Hawaiian shirts. Trance: Kaylee/River, maniac pixie dream girl who knows things. Tyr: Jayne-- the selfish, self-absorbed thug with a heart of gold. Rev Bem: Book, with the whole atoning-for-a-dark-past thing going on. There's no real similarity to Simon or Inara, other than perhaps Rommie and she only got her android body in the third episode. And Andromeda is obviously no Serenity, but there's always the Eureka Maru...

Another strong similarity could be drawn to Farscape, which actually started a year or so before Andromeda. You have a man out of his context (well, time for Hunt, I was never quite sure if John Crichton went to the future or a parallel universe), a crew of misfits including an action chick, a dangerous alien guy, a weird body-painted woman, a sentient starship... the beige colour scheme is even kinda similar to Moya's bridge.

Maybe it's just an early-00s TV SF thing? Along with the somewhat cheesy costumes (god that chain mail tank-top Tyr wears is so absurd) and the cheap CGI. Actually really pretty cheap CGI. Stargate was coming out about the same time and while the CGI was fairly noticeable there... it wasn't quite nearly as bad. Probably it's more noticeable because Andromeda seems to be a bit more graphics-heavy show? Bem's makeup is pretty decent, though. I actually missed out entirely on Bem previously since I came on well after the actor had left, so it's been interesting watching him.

What makes the show stand out, more than anything, is that it's as much about *ideas* as it is action. Dylan has the whole thing of re-establishing the Commonwealth going on. There are the Nietzescheans standing in their way. Just had that episode with the children cargo-culting in imitation of the High Guard. Sort of like if Picard got thrust into a dystopian future version of Trek, all on his own on the D. It's not just space adventure, people are actually standing up for things they believe in, and having to deal with that. That's a little bit different.

Anyway. My understanding is that the first couple of seasons are the best, and I should basically just stop watching after that point, for there are only a handful of decent episodes, which Thanas helpfully provided in a post a few years ago in a thread discussing this very show.

Thoughts? Discussion? Commentary?
First and second seasons are pretty good. Before the dark times. Before Kevin Sorbo changed the opening theme to elevator music and forced Robert Hewitt Wolfe out in favor of his egotistical self. Season 3 and onwards it became the Dylan Hunt Is God show, and progressively went down the shitter.
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Re: Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: Retro-Watch

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-03-01 10:17pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-02-24 04:02pm
I was never quite sure if John Crichton went to the future or a parallel universe
Neither. He just went to a distant part of the galaxy.

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